10-day Festival of Cricket taking place in Malta

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10-day Festival of Cricket taking place in MaltaMarsa Cricket Club hosted 9 straight days of cricket with the visits of two senior teams and two renowned cricketing schools from the UK.

With over 50 hours of action, there were plenty of highlights to savour. There were also visits from ex Yorkshire captain and coach David Byas (Pocklington School) and George Lavelle (England's U16 wicket-keeper batsman).

Following the visit of Sharks CC (April 1-2), Pocklington School and Merchant Taylors School – Crosby took part in a two-match series on April 3 and 4. Merchant Taylors, boosted by the outstanding wicket-keeping and batting of George Lavelle, won the series 2 nil.

Mon 4th: In the first T20 match Lavelle hit a splendid century (108 off only 65 balls) to lead his side to a tally of 179. In reply Loten (32) and Stephenson (30) took Pocklington to a respectable total of 121 for 6.

Tue 5th: The 2nd match of the series saw Pocklington reach a below-par 99 all out with Will Burns the only shining light with 33 runs. For Merchant Taylors, Edward Brown captured 3 wickets for 5 runs. MTS made light work of their chase, reaching their target in the 17th over. Alex Rankin top scored with 43 runs.

Wed 6th: Merchant Taylors defeated Marsa CC by only 3 wickets. Again it was Lavelle with a stylish 55 runs leading the way. For Marsa, Kevin Krisha captured 3 wickets. For Marsa, Spiteri and Andrew Naudi top scored with 29 runs apiece. Tom Hartley took the bowling honours for MTS with 3 for 29 off his 6 overs.

Thu 7th: After a well-earned rest day, Pocklington School took on the Marsa in an exciting encounter. The locals batted first and reached 148 runs (all out) from their allotted 30 overs. Frank Spiteri who top scored with 49, was brilliantly supported in the middle by Bikram Arora. The game was in the balance as Pocklington required 12 runs from the final over of 14 year old Ethan Xuereb. It was a brave move by Marsa captain John Grima, and after being hit for a boundary early on, Xuereb composed himself to carry Marsa home to a memorable victory (by 3 runs).

Fri 8th: Marsa took on the Outcasts CC from Lincolnshire, UK in a T20 clash. Batting first, Marsa reached 148 for 8, thanks largely to a 50 from Andrew Naudi. In reply, opener Darren Clark spoilt the home side's party with a 50 of his own as Outcasts sealed victory off the penultimate ball.

Sat 9th: 3 Way T20 Tournament:

Game 1: Marsa played Outcasts in the early game and restricted the visitors to 127 off their allotted 20 overs. The innings highlights were the spectacular run outs by Niraj Khanna and Uday MacLean. The latter picking up 3 wickets for 17 runs. In reply, Nowell Khosla brought Marsa CC home, scoring an excellent 75 runs off just 44 balls.

Game 2: Grasshoppers CC (Shropshire) batted first against Outcasts CC and thanks to 48 runs from Joe Yapp, reached the commendable target of 165 for 6. In reply, Outcasts left themselves a little too much to claw back, and the efforts of local based players Paul and Luke Bradley were in vain as they fell short by 24 runs.

Game 3: Marsa took to the field in the final match of the day and Grasshoppers reached 144 for 4 wickets. Amar Gorania was the best of the Marsa bowlers but it was to prove a difficult task when Haroon Mughal, Sam Aquilina and Frank Spiteri were dismissed within the first 10 overs. Marsa reached the tally of 98 for 9, which gave Grasshoppers victory by 46 runs and the T20 Tournament trophy.

Sun 10th: Outcasts defeated Grasshoppers convincingly with Maltese junior representative Luke Bradley bowling an inspired spell of 7 overs, 1 wicket for 17 runs. The other star for Outcasts was again Darren Clark with the bat.

Wed 13th: Marsa took on Grasshoppers in their final match and found young Joe Yapp in an unrelenting mood. His innings took the visitors to the commanding total of 215 for 8 off 30 overs. In reply, Marsa never got going and the wickets of Arora and Khosla effectively ended the home side's chances. Marsa reached a respectable 171.

Umpires: Les White & Alan Swift

Scorers: Eric Balakrishnan & Paula Calleja

After 10 games in the last 8 days, it kicked off nicely the April festival of cricket in Malta.

This weekend Marsa will host Baldock Town, Graces and Wandlers CC, with 2 matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The following weekend (April 22-24h) sees the Malta T20 Crossfire Cup, the highlight of the 2016 Cricket Season. Hampstead CC, winners of the Middlesex Premier League in 2013 and 2015, will start as tournament favourites.

Matches will be played at 10am, 1pm and 4pm each day.

Match reports Frank Spiteri

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